Micah Tyler is a Christian singer-songwriter who recently released a new album, ‘New Today’. He penned the following text for fans, readers of American Songwriter, and the world at large.
I’m sitting at a new desk. I bought it on Amazon last week and have been waiting to put it together, looking forward to a project. I had imagined taking out the instructions and checking the inventory of parts in the box to make sure everything was here and ready to assemble. I had envisioned spending time crafting my new workspace, forming and screwing, hammering and shaping, all the while plotting out what to say to inspire and encourage fellow songwriters. But when I took it out of the box, the desk was in 2 pieces and, in roughly 26 seconds, it was done. No crafting. No forming. No building. It had 4 plastic snaps that attached the desktop to the metal, preassembled legs. I didn’t even use a tool. The instructions literally had no words, just 2 pictures. This thing I have been anticipating for the past few days was over as soon as it began.
That’s about how it felt as we neared the release date for my latest album, New Today, that dropped on April 24th. I had spent three years living, breathing, dreaming, and writing this record. I had toured over 500 days away from my family and our home in southeast Texas, flown to Nashville 20+ times for writing trips and meetings, had photo shoots, approved album art, and written out my ‘thank you’ section for the liner notes. I had FaceTimed in on all the recording sessions with players, helped arrange all the choir parts for each song, and spent lots of late nights singing into microphones trying to bring the truth of these lyrics to life one note at a time. My ears were numb from listening and approving the mixes on the snare drum for a B-side track and the low-end levels on the second single. We had a plan to tour major cities with the band and hit major radio markets on the heels of the nationwide tour I was on, trying to decide if we should fly or bus to make the routing work.
And then, like the rest of the world… COVID-19 changed everything. I went from sitting on a bus getting ready to play a sold-out show in Washington to frantically booking a plane ticket to get out of the state because we heard that they were about to shut down the airport. The remainder of that tour was canceled (14 shows) along with the promo tour for the album. No more radio station visits. No album release party. The only thing that remained was a finished album and a date on the calendar, April 24th. I started to wonder if we should push back the release. It felt strange surrendering something so special in the midst of so much uncertainty.
Then, shortly after I got back home, I had to approve the final mastered album. I put on my headphones and spent an hour listening to each song, tracks 1 through 11, and remember all the moments of the past three years that gave these songs their bones. I remembered seeing the damage to the walls and the floors of my home after Hurricane Harvey put 50 inches of rain on us in 2017. I remembered hearing the news that my younger brother Daniel was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer just four weeks after the storm. I felt all the lonely, long nights on a tour bus, missing my wife and kids. I remembered the vulnerability of walking into writers rooms with my feelings on my sleeve, and trying to find hope in the middle of my weakest moments. I remembered digging deep and fighting to believe the words I knew I was supposed to be attaching to chords and melodies. I remembered walking into our home and seeing the new floors and walls and the relief that came from knowing that we were safe from falling through the floor. I remembered hearing the bell as my brother rang it March of 2019 to celebrate that he had beaten the death sentence he had received a year and a half before. I felt like I had found a time capsule full of hurt and hope; every word had significance. All of a sudden, I knew I hadn’t written songs that were weaker because of these new and uneasy times with the Coronavirus; instead, these songs were battle tested and ready to take on whatever elements they are walking into BECAUSE of the fight it took to craft them.
As songwriters, our songs should not need the stars to align to give them importance. Instead, they should reflect the gravity of what we carried into that writing session. The release of my album was shorter and less involved than what I had anticipated, but it didn’t change the words and the truths that I learned though my storms and trials. I just know I need to keep writing and telling stories, even if they come to life from desks with no assembly required.